What is a meeting, anyway?
A meeting is when two or more people come together to discuss one or more topics, in order to accomplish a goal. But some meetings can actually end with more confusion than when they started — we’ve all been in bad meetings that frustrate our momentum.
If you follow a few simple suggestions, you can have meetings that are productive and worthwhile every time:
- A meeting needs an agenda (or at least a stated purpose) that everyone knows — what are we here to talk about, decide, and accomplish together?
- Someone needs to take notes, and those notes need to be shared afterward. It’s even better if you have a way to share those notes so that others can add details: an email thread is OK, a shared Google document is better.
- Meetings yield decisions and actionable tasks, and those tasks should be assigned so that everyone knows who’s doing what.
- Prioritize action over discussion and turn a discussion into action as soon as possible.
- Instead of asking questions, propose actionable tasks.
- Instead of disagreeing with a proposal, offer a different solution.
- The next deadline — launch date, test, draft, presentation, or just the next meeting — should be identified before the meeting ends (or one person should be tasked with scheduling the next meeting within 24 hours).
- Meetings should be short (30 or 60 minutes).
- Meetings should be held with the fewest number of people possible.
- When you’re done with the agenda, end the meeting … even if it’s early.
The bottom line is: a meeting always moves a project forward with actionable tasks, assignments, deadlines, and a record of what everyone agreed to do.
Good conversations can also be a part of your work — brainstorming, debriefing, decompressing, even goofing around. But don’t mistake a good conversation for a meeting.